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Granite Mountain Big Loop plus, AZ
mini location map2022-03-20
75 by photographer avatartibber
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Granite Mountain Big Loop plus, AZ 
Granite Mountain Big Loop plus, AZ
Hiking9.41 Miles 517 AEG
Hiking9.41 Miles   3 Hrs   50 Mns   2.52 mph
517 ft AEG      6 Mns Break
1st trip
Route Scout Route Recorded  on Route Scout Popup | MapDEX
3-25-2022 (would have been my father's 95th birthday). This is delayed, but not on purpose, as life got in the way... that and technical glitches. Oh, and if you tuned in to see if I was with Joe, Bruce and John; you will be disappointed. This is a lot easier version of what they did.

I drew out a bigger loop to try and get some extra miles and take advantage of maybe, getting more wildflower pictures on March 20th. The weather was a tad dicey but ended up being nearly Tibber-perfect for one of the best photosets I have shot in a while. Seriously, it's all about the light! Nearly every photo was so good it made me giddy :D . The hike itself was fabulous as well. I'm at a crossroads where I can't decide if I want to hike for speed or for the experience; it's hard for me to do both. Now that I'm retired, one of those decisions I didn't think I'd be facing.

I started up Powerline Road. I passed by a docent before stopping to take a picture of a tall Soaptree Yucca. The docent passed me. When I caught him I asked if he was hiking arbitrarily or had a route. He was doing the Turpentine/Black Hill loop. I continued on my way until I noticed a gathering of Fairy Duster and then saw a Roadrunner land so I snapped a couple pictures. The Roadrunner was pretty fast so only got his backside. I mentioned it to the docent and he says they rarely see Roadrunners out here.

As I veered to the right, north, I heard and then spotted a male Phainopepla and zoomed in for a few shots. I hooked up with the Granite Mountain Loop Trail where I started encountering lots of great color; especially with the partly cloudy light and of course, lots more people too. Needless to say, I got bogged down taking pictures and dodging hikers and bikers. However, the flower show is very, very light compared to normal; especially the lack of poppies and lupine ground cover. What was there for the next half-mile was very pretty and lush with the Chuparosa and Brittlebush.

Next I saw a couple hawks high in the air. For awhile, they were hovering side by side riding the thermal. I tried to get a photo but this camera will not take the shot until its focused on the subject. I did get several photos but mostly enjoyed just watching them. This funny substance started dropping on me but not enough to deter me from continuing. I checked out the Siamese Twin saguaros which are growing up nicely. Along here were some small wildflowers including Owl Clover, Popcorn Flower, and some Lupine along with that little yellow belly flower.

There was also that mystery flower with the green bottom and dried tall top. I sure hope somewhere along the line I will be able to ID the flower. The other dried out flower that looks somewhat like a bull thistle of some sort; I think that's what it is. I was able to get a really good picture and turned it into black and white; a thing of beauty now. I made my turn on the Balanced Rock Trail and climbed up from the back side. On the other side, I took a picture of a bike rider which turned out pretty cool because of the sky above; should have taken one on my phone.

I continued west and south to eventually reach the Cholla Mountain Loop taking mind of the weather to the south and west, making for some pretty cool photos. I would stop and listen to the wind as I went by different trees or cactus. The wind sounds much differently when you stop near some object that's capturing its cooler sound. This happened again as I was near the Coyote Loop on the north side of my hike. I was glad to have the wind at my back as it seemed a bit warmer. It's been a while since I've been this close to Cholla Mountain and the foreground views provided great entertainment.

There were two different sections going on this part of the trail, an Ocotillo area and a Crucifixion area. A little past this were some blooming Banana Yuccas. I would see a few more of those in the next few miles of my hike. Of course, my eyes are also drawn to the occasional light on Granite Mountain. Once I started hiking on Branding Iron Trail you could see the very stormy weather in the Mazzies which, once again, provided for great pictures. I also spotted a rock window that had a saguaro on the other side of it, very 8) . It's one of those things that if you don't look the right way you will miss it. I eventually came around to its other side and there is a path up to the area. It's also interesting that there are signs up on old trails that basically say, travel at your own risk. I would see four of these.

Next I joined back up with the Granite Mountain Loop which was familiar territory for me as I've hiked this loop in this direction a few times. There was great light on one of those Whitethorn Acacia trees; those thorns are simply stunning. I did look over to what I call Cholla Hill and saw three downed saguaros so I stepped off trail to get a picture; being mindful of snakes.

And now, onto new territory, Coyote Canyon Trail. Here I found a butterfly more or less sitting on a flower but no luck with my focus on it. But, I did get some very close shots of a squirrel that seemed to be posing so that I could get the perfect shot. Just a little bit later, I got to circle the double Crested Saguaro cactus :) . It is a nice healthy specimen. There is also another trail junction here. This trail was a continual surprise. I don't know who designed this route but it was a delight. And they call this a Canyon for a reason. Apparently on the previous trip reports/pictures, I must have missed this or forgotten what a treat this was, certainly unexpected for a desert hike.

I meandered my way and came upon a sign that said Dove Valley Trail; altho I thot this was all Coyote Canyon Loop; which perhaps it is with this trail thrown in as part of the loop. As I headed south you hike near where there is a grass pool to your right (west). I thot it was Bootlegger Tank but it wasn't as that comes up later. I don't see any name for it so it must just be a low laying area. There seems to be other trails that shoot off from here so I'll have to check them out in the future. This is a fun area to hike. I passed the intersection with the Cow Poke Trail as I headed east on the Dove Valley Trail (former road I think). In the distance I could see the sun rays shining down on Granite Mountain so I kept an eye on that to see if we'd get some bigger rays and over a larger portion of the mountain.

I finally made it to 136th Street Express Trail of which I had low expectations but once again, was pleasantly surprised. It zigs and zags and bypasses Bootlegger Tank which is empty but pretty good-sized. I started seeing more bike riders as I had since getting on the Dove Valley part of the trail. Lots of great scenery but I lost my light; though I did get a picture of a Mockingbird and then later, a rabbit by the TH.

It's hard to believe the elevation is 1500 feet higher in places so near where I live, which makes me think I could hike out here, even if it's warmer. My legs were pretty sore from my Barbell class the morning before; that always surprises me as I workout at least three times a week and this was my second Barbell class in as many days. It's not painful but I do feel the soreness in my legs. You would think hiking would loosen up your muscles but that doesn't seem to work for me. Nonetheless, a fabulous day on the trail and I had a lot more left in me; but with no elevation to speak of, I better :lol: .

TMI: Most of the pictures I took with my regular camera but I figured the phone would do a decent job of the landscape photos just because of the light. It seems my camera takes darker photos and the phone lighter photos. I prefer the darker as I can lighten them easier than taking down the brightness. Nonetheless, today, almost every photo seemed a good one. I also learned that the photo editor on Google photos is not nearly as good as the basic editor I use on Windows photos so I downloaded the phone photos to my computer for editing. We'll see how that works in the future.

The documentarian in me did a lot of that on this hike (photo documentation); thus, because of all the pics I made a slideshow. It was a bit of a hassle as I relied on the auto creator that did a so-so job. But the music is top notch thanks to @LosDosSloFolks, altho I ran into a copyright glitch so had to change out some of his songs. Oh, the movie of the hawk catching the thermal is at about the 2 minute mark; it's pretty cool.

Slideshow Video Part 1 [ youtube video ] thermal hawk around 2 minute mark
Video Part 2 [ youtube video ]

WATCH: 8.92 miles (high point 3071, low 2622) Avg bpm 126/max 153 (21% at aerobic Zone 3, 76% at weight control Zone 2) burning 1480 calories. Temp at start 64.3, mostly cloudy and 31% humidity finishing at 5:05PM
Named place
Named place [ checklist ]
[ checklist ] Kentuck Mountain
wildflower observationwildflower observationwildflower observationwildflower observationwildflower observation
Wildflowers Observation Light
very limited poppies and closed up.
For me, sometimes it's just as much about the journey as the destination.
Oh, and once in awhile, don't forget to look back at the trail you've traveled.
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